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East Lansing, MI, United States

Moore J.A.,Grand Valley State University | Moore J.A.,Michigan State University | Draheim H.M.,Michigan State University | Etter D.,Wildlife Division | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Understanding the factors that affect dispersal is a fundamental question in ecology and conservation biology, particularly as populations are faced with increasing anthropogenic impacts. Here we collected georeferenced genetic samples (n = 2,540) from three generations of black bears (Ursus americanus) harvested in a large (47,739 km2), geographically isolated population and used parentage analysis to identify mother-offspring dyads (n = 337). We quantified the effects of sex, age, habitat type and suitability, and local harvest density at the natal and settlement sites on the probability of natal dispersal, and on dispersal distances. Dispersal was male-biased (76% of males dispersed) but a small proportion (21%) of females also dispersed, and female dispersal distances (mean ± SE = 48.9±7.7 km) were comparable to male dispersal distances (59.0±3.2 km). Dispersal probabilities and dispersal distances were greatest for bears in areas with high habitat suitability and low harvest density. The inverse relationship between dispersal and harvest density in black bears suggests that 1) intensive harvest promotes restricted dispersal, or 2) high black bear population density decreases the propensity to disperse. Multigenerational genetic data collected over large landscape scales can be a powerful means of characterizing dispersal patterns and causal associations with demographic and landscape features in wild populations of elusive and wide-ranging species. © 2014 Moore et al.

Stricker H.K.,Mississippi State University | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Beyer Jr. D.E.,Wildlife Division | Kanefsky J.,Michigan State University | And 3 more authors.
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2012

Although genetic and analytical methods for estimating wildlife abundance have improved rapidly over the last decade, effective methods for collecting hair samples from terrestrial carnivores in a mark-recapture framework have lagged. Hair samples are generally collected using methods that permit sampling of multiple individuals during a single sampling period that can cause genotyping errors due to cross-contamination. We evaluated a modified body snare as a single-sample method to obtain bobcat hair samples suitable for individual identification using DNA analyses to estimate population size. We used a systematic grid (2.5 × 2.5 km) overlaid on a 278.5 km2 study area in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to distribute sampling effort. In each of 44 grid cells, we placed 2-6 snares at established sampling stations and collected hair samples weekly for 8 weeks during January-March 2010. We collected 230 hair samples overall, with 91% of sampling stations obtaining at least 1 hair sample. Fifty-seven percent of samples had sufficient DNA for species identification, which included bobcat (Lynx rufus, n = 17); raccoon (Procyon lotor, n = 62); coyote, dog, or wolf (Canis spp., n = 29); fox (Vulpes vulpes or Urocyon cinereoargenteus, n = 4); and fisher (Martes pennanti, n = 1). We identified 8 individual bobcats and using Huggins closed capture population models with a one-half mean maximum distance moved buffer, estimated 10 individuals within the trapping area (95% confidence interval = 8-28) with a density of 3.0 bobcats/100 km2. Our method provides an effective, single-sample technique for detecting bobcats and estimating abundance. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

Wegan M.T.,562 East Stoll Road | Etter D.R.,562 East Stoll Road | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Beyer Jr. D.E.,Wildlife Division | And 2 more authors.
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2014

Weevaluated a cable neck-restraint for live capture of coyotes (Canis latrans) in Michigan, USA, from 6 January to 22 March 2011. We documented capture efficiency, selectivity, and animal welfare using criteria developed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Best Management Practices and the International Organization for Standardization. We constructed cable restraints with an 8.9-cm-diameter minimum loop stop and reverse bend washer locks drilled to 4.8 mm, to more readily relax on 2.4-mmdiameter steel cable. Cable restraints were set for 938 trap-nights during January-March 2011. Capture efficiency was 71.4% (n=20 coyotes) and selectivity 95.0%. We performed necropsies (n=11) or external examinations (n=9) to evaluate capture-related injuries and released coyotes fitted with Global Positioning System collars (n=5) to estimate home-range size. Mean individual injury score of necropsied coyotes was 5.0±SD 8.9 and mean total injury score was 7.3±SD 9.8; we observed no mortality of coyotes due to capture. Home range sizes of 2 coyotes (8.9km2 and 16.6 km2) were within the 95% confidence interval ofmean homerange size of resident coyotes captured in foothold traps (16.0km2±SD 5.7, n=11). Our findings indicate this cable restraint configuration exceeds all Best Management Practices criteria and is suitable for the capture of coyotes in both wildlife management and research arenas. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.

Bump J.K.,Michigan Technological University | Murawski C.M.,Michigan Technological University | Kartano L.M.,University of Helsinki | Beyer Jr. D.E.,Wildlife Division | Roell B.J.,Wildlife Division
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Background:The influence of policy on the incidence of human-wildlife conflict can be complex and not entirely anticipated. Policies for managing bear hunter success and depredation on hunting dogs by wolves represent an important case because with increasing wolves, depredations are expected to increase. This case is challenging because compensation for wolf depredation on hunting dogs as compared to livestock is less common and more likely to be opposed. Therefore, actions that minimize the likelihood of such conflicts are a conservation need.Methodology/Principal Findings:We used data from two US states with similar wolf populations but markedly different wolf/hunting dog depredation patterns to examine the influence of bear hunting regulations, bear hunter to wolf ratios, hunter method, and hunter effort on wolf depredation trends. Results indicated that the ratio of bear hunting permits sold per wolf, and hunter method are important factors affecting wolf depredation trends in the Upper Great Lakes region, but strong differences exist between Michigan and Wisconsin related in part to the timing and duration of bear-baiting (i.e., free feeding). The probability that a wolf depredated a bear-hunting dog increases with the duration of bear-baiting, resulting in a relative risk of depredation 2.12-7.22× greater in Wisconsin than Michigan. The net effect of compensation for hunting dog depredation in Wisconsin may also contribute to the difference between states.Conclusions/Significance:These results identified a potential tradeoff between bear hunting success and wolf/bear-hunting dog conflict. These results indicate that management options to minimize conflict exist, such as adjusting baiting regulations. If reducing depredations is an important goal, this analysis indicates that actions aside from (or in addition to) reducing wolf abundance might achieve that goal. This study also stresses the need to better understand the relationship among baiting practices, the effect of compensation on hunter behavior, and depredation occurrence. © 2013 Bump et al.

Stillfried M.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Belant J.L.,Mississippi State University | Svoboda N.J.,Mississippi State University | Beyer D.E.,Wildlife Division | Kramer-Schadt S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2015

The trade-off between predator avoidance and foraging is a key decision making factor that shapes an organism's adaptive behaviour and movement patterns. Human hunters act as top predators to influence the behaviour of free-ranging mammals, including large carnivorous species such as black bears (Ursus americanus). Analysing the effects of hunting on animal behavioural patterns is essential for understanding the extent to which animals detect and respond to human-induced disturbances. To this end, we assessed whether black bear movement behaviour changed with varying risk from spatially and temporally heterogeneous human predation. Levels of risk were categorized as either low (disturbance from dog training; n= 19 bears) or high (disturbance from hunting activities; n= 11 bears). Road types were either paved (risk due to vehicles) or non-paved (risk due to hunters) and were used as proxies for hunting effort and amount of disturbance. We began by testing the null hypothesis that bears' distribution before the onset of human disturbance is spatially random. Next, to test temporal movement adjustment between the low and high risk levels, we measured the distance to the nearest road and the road crossing frequency using mixed effects models with risk level, time of day and sex as predictor variables.As disturbance near non-paved roads increased due to the start of the hunting activity, the mean distances of bears to non-paved roads increased while the mean distances of bears to paved roads decreased, despite the continual risk of vehicle collision. These behavioural responses were observed during day and night, with the frequency of crossing paved roads at night five times greater than in daytime during the hunting season.Our findings demonstrate that black bears are able to detect risky places and adjust their spatial movements accordingly. More specifically, bears can perceive changes in the level of risk from human hunting activities on a fine temporal scale. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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